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review 2019-03-02 19:10
Early Medieval with ethereal tone
Embers - Helen Kirkman

I did a buddy read for this, for more thoughts, comments, and quotes:Embers Buddy Read

It was not ten paces of Northumbrian soil that separated him from her. It was a whole country. It was grief and loss and blood and the inescapable ties of other loyalties and other cares. 

You'll definitely want to read the first in this series as this one deals with Brand, the brother to the hero in the first, and follows the timeline immediately after. Brand running away with a woman, Alina, that was politically refused to him, started the fallout for both brothers. Here we have Brand meeting back up with Alina and dealing with the ending fallout. 

I liked the first better than this one, as I found the story with the author's style of ethereal writing/tone slowed down the middle too much and made characters' motivations too murky; I spent a good portion of the latter half confused. 

Still, if looking for different tone and style, Kirkman is vastly different from a lot of authors out there. I wish our main couple could have gotten more scenes simply enjoying being together or verbal interaction as an ending scene of them together had amazing chemistry, wit, and banter. 

Read the first before this one, enjoy the wonderfully set early medieval time period, and prepare for a slower ethereal tone.

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text 2019-02-26 17:34
Reading progress update: I've read 152 out of 236 pages.
G. A. Henty: In Freedom's Cause-A Medieval History of Scotland through the Story of Wallace and Bruce - G.A. Henty
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review 2019-02-26 00:22
The Secret Chef by Crystal King
The Secret Chef - Crystal King

The year is 1577 and Bartolomeo Scappi, the famous Vatican chef, has died. Giovanni, his nephew who has long been his apprentice, has inherited almost everything, including his recipes and the many journals where his uncle has chronicled his life. He was supposed to burn them, but he was curious about the man he loved and had taught him so much. And therein he learns that his uncle had many secrets.

 

Dangerous secrets.

 

 

This was a fantastic look into the life of a famous chef, of which little is known about. Crystal King weaves a wonderful tale around his life, some historical, much of it made up, but still a delight to read. The meals this man cooked for the Vatican and many nobles were nothing less than extravagant, but it made my mouth water.

 

The author does include a bit at the end about what is known of this chef and his life and it was appreciated.

 

While not as good as her first book, in my opinion, it was still a great read and I definitely recommend it to all historical fiction fans out there.

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review 2018-12-01 20:34
An Army, a Parliament, a King, and a dash of idealism
Garland Of Straw - Stella Riley

 

'It was never going to be anything other than it was. The route to being rid of him.’

 

Second in Stella Riley's Roundheads and Cavaliers series, we're once again immersed into political, societal, and familial drama during the second part of the English Civil War (1640s). The first in the series (The Black Madonna) was about the build up and first part while also introducing us to three families and other assorted characters that represented sides of the war. While the first installment mainly followed a Roundhead family along with an outsider's perspective, our heroine is a Cavalier and forced to marry a Roundhead.

 

While in the first, I thought the author had too many irons in the fire that lead to a somewhat fractured story, she nails the inclusion of real historical events and people with her fictional characters. Our hero Gabriel is a Colonel in the Roundhead army and thus, we are given an amazing inclusion and relay of the events of the day.

 

So that,’ concluded Venetia, ‘is it. I’m required to forget the man I’ve been betrothed to for five years in order to marry a base-born Roundhead usurper.

 

If you read the first in the series, you'll remember Venetia and her betrothal to Ellis Brendan. She's a heroine that will make you feel like she takes stubbornness and obstinate actions to the next level for the majority of the story. Her forced hand and lack of control in instances of vital importance are worth remembering but mirrored against Gabriel's strong, steadfast, and generous attitude, will have you feeling very frustrated with her. Their romance is very slow burning and the turmoil swirling around them are much more front and center; this is historical fiction with a thread of romance. That is not to say that their romance isn't inspired, Gabriel is a hero you'll fall in love with, just that I couldn't help reveling in all the historical drama taking place.

 

Said Algernon Sidney, ‘The King can be tried by no Court; and no man can be tried by this Court.’

I tell you,’ replied Cromwell, ‘we will cut off his head with the Crown upon it.’

 

The way the author relayed history and wove it into a story that was entertaining along with intellectually stimulating deserves a standing ovation. I was lost into the various different factions of the Army, Parliament, rising up of Levellers, and various others fighting for control, and bringing and introducing new ideals that pop up in our government today. This was living breathing history that directly shaped and impacts us today. I felt the passion of Free-born John, the self-righteousness of Cromwell, the weariness and fear of the people, and the monumental moment of trying a King.

 

Our heroine and hero have a bit of side story and drama but I thought the author did a better job, than the first, of integrating it into the overall and spotlight deserving Army and Parliament battles of the Civil War. Books like this is how you reach people who think history is boring, they'll learn, it will spark thinking, and be entertained. I can't wait to read on in the series to follow along with these characters Riley has created to see what becomes of them, not mention England's growth struggle.

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review 2018-10-01 21:28
Assassinations, ruby hilt daggers, Richard the Lionheart, and Irishmen
King's Warrior - Kris Kennedy

She stepped to him, pressed her breasts up against him. His thighs were hard against the front of hers, the hilts of his weapons bumped against her hips and belly, and dark, dangerous desire burned in his eyes. She wanted all of it. All of him. “Show me.” She slid her arms around his neck. “For I have been dying to be wanted the way you do.”

 

The first in the Renegade Lords series and an expanded version of a previously published novella, King's Warrior came in heavy with the steamy sex scenes and finished up with a historical fiction twist. Beginning with an introduction to a group of criminal boys, this story focuses on Tadhg, the one who decides to strike out on his own.

 

This worried her, that she would experience chills of excitement because a stranger had promised he’d return after he dragged the bodies of rogue soldiers to a whorehouse and dumped them for her.

She turned inside to stuff rags in the other men’s mouths.

 

As usual with Kennedy's couples, they sparked, sizzled, and steamed up the pages. Tadhg (author provides a link to a Youtube video to hear how the name is pronounced) and Magdalena pretty much have an instant chemistry and lust. While the sex scenes were always inspiring, they popped up too frequently in the first half for me; I'm more of a fan of gradual building growth to the bedroom or up against the wall, as was the case at times here. 

 

The King handed him the dagger. “Take it, Irish, take it and run hard.”

 

The second half is where we get to the meat of the adventure and the explanation as to why Tadhg is on the run. In this fictional version of history, King Richard just may have paid for a group of assassins to kill the King of Jerusalem. The King of France, Prince John, and Geoffrey d'Argent the Baron of Sherwood are chasing Tadhg trying to get the dagger he carries that will implicate Richard in the assassination. (The author provides this fascinating look at how she took real history, weaved it in and out to create this story) It was fun and exciting to see real historical figures like Richard the Lionheart, William Marshal, Earl of Huntington, Prince John, and Sherwood flitter in and out of the scenes.

 

He knew now that even if he never saw Ireland again, he’d still somehow found his way home.

 

With the sex scenes appearing a bit too soon and taking over the first half, the story felt somewhat uneven with the more plot heavy second half. The sex scenes and plot were done well, they just didn't mesh. Magdalena was the stronger character of the two with Tadhg's past resting to much in the shade to give him a flush character feel. However, Tadhg and Magdalena never lacked for passion and I'm wildly anticipating Tadhg's circle of friends' stories.

 

“It is too good,” she whispered.

“I know,” he rasped, and sucked her bottom lip into his mouth.

 

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